I have a filing system that allows me to basically restart the filing system each year. In my cloud drive, I create a folder for the year. Then, within that, I create folders for all the normal things one might have: Operations, Clients, Appearances, Marketing, and so forth.
The new year’s folder is normally created in November or December, whenever something must be filed for the new year. And the previous year is generally archived in March or April. Basically, when we find that we no longer look at the old folder, we move it to long term storage.
Sometimes, files and folders need to be copied from the previous year to the new year. We never move files and folders, we only copy. This process retains an intact copy of the previous year’s activities and allows changes to be made in the new year.
One serious advantage of this process is that the new year begins with very little in front of us – just like real life. Very often, I start the new year with only a few events on my calendar (and therefore, files in the new year folder. But by the time December rolls around, my list of events scrolls off the page.
There are two really cool moments each year because of this strategy. First, at the beginning of the year, there’s a blank slate. I know certain things will appear because either I’m planning them or they always appear. Second, there’s the end of the year, where I look at all the activities that took place. That can be quite fulfilling.
My favorite part of looking forward and backward as the calendar ticks over is to recall the activities that I hadn’t planned on in January, but which turned out to be highlights of the year. For example, I started a new podcast for technologists in 2019. I didn’t know in January that this was going to happen. And next week we will post our 40th episode.
One of my favorite new themes when I speak is about leaving space in your schedule. I encourage you to leave blocks of time here and there in your schedule. Don’t worry, you’ll never sit around for a hour or two doing nothing. Either you’ll put something productive in that slot, or someone else will.
But these blank spaces allow the unexpected to appear. I have a friend whose approach to opportunities is to say yes to everything and see if it works. That strategy only works because she hasn’t filled her calendar 24×7 in fifteen minute increments for the whole year. She has left time for unplanned stuff to just show up.
Whatever your strategy for being open to opportunities, I hope you have an amazing 2020. Just remember to leave room for good stuff to appear.